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Titan the Bengal tiger

“If I were to come back as a tiger, I would want to live out my days at The Wildcat Sanctuary.”

Dr. Ronald Tilson – Senior Conservation Advisor and World-Renowned Tiger Expert/Researcher

They will never know freedom.

Can they at least know compassion?


Our Mission

Provide a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis.

Our Vision

Help create a world where animal sanctuaries are no longer needed.

Who we are

The Wildcat Sanctuary (TWS) is a 501c3 non-profit, no-kill big cat rescue located in Sandstone, MN.  TWS provides a natural sanctuary to wild cats in need and inspires change to end the captive wildlife crisis.  TWS is funded solely on private donations.  The Sanctuary is a rescue organization and is not open to the public.  Combining natural and spacious habitats with a life free of exhibition, TWS allows all residents to live wild at heart. As a true sanctuary, we do not buy, breed, sell or exhibit animals. The Wildcat Sanctuary is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and a member of Tigers in America sanctuaries. We are also licensed by the USDA and members of the American Zookeepers Association.

Strategic Anchors

  • Human safety is always first.
  • Treat all staff, donors and supporters as special as our cats
  • Go above and beyond to make our cats happy – always.
  •      Customize care for each resident
  •      Keep our cats at “sanctuary weight”
  •      Be proactive with medical care, husbandry, habitats and enrichment
  •      Compassionate end of life decisions are a gift
  • Inspire advocates at every touch point

Core Beliefs

Compassion toward animals.
  • We do not breed, buy, sell or exhibit animals.
  • We believe wild animals are not appropriate pets.
  • We believe the integrity of each individual animal is important.
  • We believe in the value of all living things and their interconnections on earth.
Knowledge is Prevention.
  • We believe in teaching respect for all living things.
  • We believe in providing honest information to help humans make the right decisions toward animals.
  • We believe that positive communication creates positive change.
People Inspire Change.
  • We believe in empowering others to help animals.
  • We believe in collaborating with other individuals and organizations to better serve animals.
  • We believe that a single individual can inspire change in an entire community.
Responsibility to Leadership.
  • We believe in being a leader among sanctuary organizations.
  • We believe in managing monetary resources professionally and honorably.
  • We believe in leading by example and respecting differing opinions amongst other facilities.

Captive Wildlife Crisis

Ekaterina and Sierra, two tigers who call TWS home, were once victims of the captive wildlife crisis.  Declawed and chained to the ground for public photos, Ekaterina and Sierra were used for profit by their owner with complete disregard for human and animal well-being alike.  The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are as many as 10,000 large wildcats in private ownership today in the country. Before calling TWS home, Liberty the cougar, was privately owned on a rural farm in Minnesota.  She was bought as a cub, and with little knowledge on how to care for a wild animal, Liberty’s owner caused her to have a severe and life-long condition called metabolic bone disease.  Exotic animals can be easy to obtain through internet purchase, local breeders and game farms and now with over breeding are advertised as free to good home.  Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle stated in a CNN report “the exotic pet trade is second only to the drug trade.  It’s literally billions of dollars exchanged in the exotic animal trade.”

What we doThe Wildcat Sanctuary brochure

TWS is committed to serving public welfare through assisting authorities upon request in removing big cats that are owned illegally and pose a public safety risk.  We provide skilled services in chemical immobilization of an animal, transport, housing and veterinary services.  We also facilitate rescues, and as needed, transportation to a reputable sanctuary out of state. TWS provides natural sanctuary to over 100 wild cats.  We provide large, free-roaming habitats that offer our residents to live wild at heart.  Each animal can escape extreme weather in a temperature controlled den or central animal building.  Every individual has the opportunity, often for the first time in their lives, to choose a path to walk and a place to lie down.  After living in a small concrete cage in the backyard of a Texas home, Sabrina the tiger, now has a free-roaming habitat with grass under her feet, a pool with a fountain and a safe environment for the rest of her life. TWS generates statewide public education and awareness through presentations to civic group events, issuing press releases, on-line newsletters and animal sponsorship programs.  We work to educate the general public on the safety issues surrounding the captive wildlife crisis and why wild cats do not make appropriate pets. You can download our brochure here.

Our life-saving work has rescued cats from 29 states and two countries.


How to help

You can help end the captive wildlife crisis and keep the wild in your heart not your home.  Making donations supports us in our mission of rescuing wildcats in need, providing a safe and natural environment for our residents and educating the public on appropriate pets.  We also offer a sponsorship program where you can donate and support any resident at TWS.  Your donations go directly to the animals providing food, veterinary care, toys and habitats.  We also offer volunteer positions to assist in building habitats, ground maintenance and fundraising events.  Internship opportunities are also available for biology or related students.  Other ways to help include; not patronizing traveling zoos especially where photos with ‘cubs’ are allowed, adopting appropriate pets from your local shelter such domestic dogs and cats, researching animal exhibits before attending to make sure they do not breed, buy or trade animals.